Born in a barn in 1909, Leo Fender seems an unlikely father of rock ’n’ roll. But as the man whose company perfected the solid-body electric guitar, his contribution to contemporary music cannot be overstated. Just take a look at the albums whose musicians thought enough of their Fender guitar to put it on the cover: Eric Clapton’s "Layla," Bruce Springsteen’s "Born To Run," Jeff Beck’s "Wired," The Pretenders’s (Chrissie Hynde) "Get Close," Bonnie Raitt’s "Nick of Time." The list of influential artists who play a Fender is just about endless.
Fender’s first solid-body electric guitar was introduced in 1950. It debuted as the one-pickup Esquire before the name of the two-pickup model was changed to Broadcaster. But Gretsch was already using the name Broadkaster on some of its instruments, so the name was changed again.
Between names, the company made the most of its remaining Fender Broadcaster decals by cutting off the word Broadcaster so that only the Fender brand made it onto the guitar’s headstock. Today, collectors call these guitars Nocasters. Only about 60 Nocasters were made, which makes them extremely collectible, but by April of 1951 the guitar would finally get a name that would stick, the Telecaster.
The Stratocaster came next in 1954. Unlike the Telecaster, whose ash body was outlined with rib-digging 45-degree edges, the Strat had a sculpted body that fit players like a glove. Three pickups gave the instrument unprecedented tonal range, as did a vibrato bar that would bend the guitar’s strings when pressed. And instead of the Telecaster’s blond, natural-wood finish, the Strat was offered in a number of colors, including the iconic sunburst (golden-yellow in the middle fading to black on the outside).
Solid-body electric bass guitars were also a Fender innovation. The Precision bass was introduced in 1951. It had a headstock that was virtually identical to that of the Telecaster and a body that turned out to be a preview of the 1954 Strat. By 1957, the Precision’s headstock had been redesigned to mirror the Stratocaster’s, and that version of the bass remains largely unchanged today. The Jazz Bass was added to the low-octave lineup in 1960, and a six-string bass was offered in 1961.
Fender launched two other major guitar lines in the 1950s. The first of these was a pair of low-cost models, the Duo-Sonic and the Musicmaster, both of which were introduced in 1956. These guitars were for kids who wanted to learn how to play without having to shell out the big bucks for a Stratocaster ($274.50 for a Strat versus $119.50 for a Musicmaster). The other initiative was a high-end guitar called the Jazzmaster, which retailed at the time for $329.50. It had a rosewood fingerboard on the standard maple neck, and switches that let the guitarist bounce between rhythm and lead sounds.
In 1962, Fender introduced the Jaguar, which combined a Jazzmaster body with a Stratocaster head. The Mustang, an update of the Duo-Sonic, was added in 1964. Years later, Nirvana...
But the 1960s are best known as the decade when Jimi Hendrix did things to his Stratocaster that nobody had thought possible, from setting it on fire to playing wailing, psychedelic versions of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Alas for Fender, it was also the decade that the company was sold to CBS—for Fender purists, the years 1965 to 1985 are like a 20-year musical drought.
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Dave Stewart and Friends- The Roxy Theatre, Hollywood, CA 12/8/14 (SHOW ...Glide Magazine, December 16th
The evening began with an opening set, by 16 year old Hollie Stephenson. Stewart is managing the young English ... His collection included a Fender Stratocaster, a Dusenberg, and an acoustic Takamine among others. Several songs into the set, Stewart ...Read more
The ToneWoodAmp Blows Amplified Sound Out Of Your Guitar's Sound HoleTechCrunch, December 15th
SHRED MAETERXXXTOTHEMAXXX I'm actually curious how this sounds and how it works outdoors. Who knows, the next busker you meet may be able to truly SHRED a little Stairway next to the Cold Stone using electronic effects and an old Fender...Read more
All Good Cretins Go to Heaven: Dee Dee Ramones Twisted Punk PaintingsDaily Beast, December 15th
John Cafiero, curator of the Dee Dee Ramone Exhibition at the Hotel Chelsea Storefront Gallery, tells me the story as we stand in front of a wall of vintage Ramones photographs. It's hard ... the largest-ever collection of his paintings is on display...Read more
Conor Oberst References Police, Ryan Adams Tussles with Crowd at KCSN ...Hollywood Reporter, December 13th
The band, which featured Upside Down Mountain's producer Jonathan Wilson on guitar, concluded with a rollicking cover of John Prine's “Pretty Good,” during which Oberst fully let loose, running around stage and leaning on Wilson's back in guitar...Read more
Risen Legacy ReviewPremier Guitar, December 12th
Those old non-master volume amps were more than just loud—they were unruly, even brutish, and their wide sound and organic feel are nearly impossible to replicate without such immense power. Instead of attempting to approximate those tones in a ...Read more
Old '97s set Wayback Machine to 1994 at Sam'smySanAntonio.com, December 11th
And they included everything -- even "Ken's Polka Thing," a weird 30-second instrumental that did in fact feature guitarist Ken Bethea switching from his Fender Telecaster to a shiny, red-and-white, piano-key accordion. Let's put it this way -- Flaco...Read more
Guitar Trader's swan song: $500K or bustU-T San Diego, December 10th
Guitar Trader, a longstanding pillar of the San Diego music scene, will close shop on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard in January if it doesn't receive $500,000 within the next few weeks, says its owner. Eric Denton posted a plea for help on the company...Read more
Ramones Signature Bass GuitarSonic State, December 9th
Features include an Olympic White gloss finish, maple neck with "C"-shaped profile and vintage-style heel truss-rod adjustment, 9.5"-radius maple fingerboard with 20 vintage-style frets, split single-coil pickup, three-ply black pickguard and vintage...Read more